Let’s get one thing out of the way, shall we? Till Lindemann is insane. A borderline mental case. From his eccentric stage antics with his main machine Rammstein, to the video for Skills In Pills‘ lead single Praise Abort, this is not a man you want to be left alone with. What he IS, is a born entertainer, and a fascinating human being. No matter who you are, what music you’re into or how much of a prude you are, Till Lindemann will snatch your attention away from you and will NOT let you go. It’s with this, that I delve into his first solo release, the aforementioned Skills In Pills. Written and produced by Till along with Hypocrisy and Pain founder Peter Tägtgren, the album promises to shock, enthrall and downright confuse it’s listeners. Standard then, eh?
Skills In Pills
1. Skills In Pills
4. Fish On
5. Children Of The Sun
6. Home Sweet Home
8. Golden Shower
10. Praise Abort
11. That’s My Heart
Opening with title track Skills In Pills, it might come as a shock to a lot of listeners that Till is in fact singing in English on this record. However, this isn’t a problem. For way too long we’ve been restricted to guessing the meaning and lyrics behind Rammstein’s greatest works. Not anymore. A thumping industrial anthem, straight forward riffs and dance-inspired synths (along with the odd wub-wub) create an interesting sound unlike any other, a sound that will continue throughout the album. This is the first song to highlight just what an incredibly unique voice Till has, with the best part of the song coming at the closing moments, with a very brief spoken portion.
Well, it didn’t take long. Track two, Ladyboy is self-explanitory, really. More bombastic riffs, beat driven melody, only this time taking a backseat to the bizarrre lyrical content. Lindemann lets loose here, dropping lines such as “Black lips, brown eyes Wet flesh, good size So hot, when it crawls”, Ladyboy is the first of a sexually explicit trilogy, exploring the deepest desires of Till’s inner nymphomaniac, and it’s as fun as it sounds. It is worth mentioning, however, Lindemann isn’t the only star here. Whilst he takes centre stage for a large chunk of the release, the backing band are impressive. The album manages to feel seperated from a Rammstein release, whilst still maintaining that same industrial, German-tinged sound.
Next up, Fat. If you thought Ladyboy was odd, get a load of this. Here, the music takes a more prominent role, with church bells and synth lines peppering an incredibly strong riff that serves as a vehicle to Lindemann’s almost psychotic ramblings. A chorus of “Call Me Freaky/Call Me Sick/I Like It Sticky/I Like It Big – Fat!”, and you have another sexually perverse masterpiece. It’s here when you really wonder; what the hell is this album? Parody? Social comment? It’s an incredibly pertinent question, but one that doesn’t need an answer. The song is an absolute joy, and one of the album’s best offerings. Grotesque and catchy, Fat is one hell of a tune.
Opening with one of the best, bounciest riffs on the album, Fish On ends our trilogy of sexually focused explorative ramblings with a more… shall I say, analogy driven piece. Less in your face, more obvious euphamism. Nonetheless, Fish On is another brilliant track, guaranteed to stick in your mind for weeks to come. A bass heavy amalgamation of every element the album has brought us so far, this better be the next single… If it can get past the censors.
Well, this is a first. Children Of The Sun manages to keep a serious face on, something I didn’t expect was capable for Till and co. Just as well the song is catchy as all hell, then. A slower song, allowing the audience to breathe somewhat. If you’re noticing at this point I haven’t mentioned too much about the musical aspects of the album, it’s because if you know anything about Rammstein, or Till Lindemann, or Tägtgren, you know how this record sounds. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. The record allows the briefest moments of ingenuity whilst keeping a theme and style that works incredibly well, and has done for several years for each artist involved. Is it generic? In places, yes. There are times when you could mistake the music you’re hearing for another Rammstein B Side, but at the end of the day, this is what you want from Lindemann.
From that, however, track six Home Sweet Home could certainly be considered a low-light of the album. The track plods through it’s near four minute length, not offering much in the way of interest or ingenuity. A slow burner that quickly fades from memory, perhaps even before the song comes to a silence. Luckily for us, Cowboy, track seven, is another stand out. The synths here really steal the show, a fun, bouncy melody that brings the album’s tempo straight back up, whilst still maintaining a head-banging riff throughout. More parodical lyrics from Till make this another single-worthy track, making me completely forget that Home Sweet Home even exists. A wonderful surprise around the 2:15 mark makes Cowboy a song to remember.
Golden Shower, then. You’d think at around this point in the album they’d run out of steam, or at least run out of innuendos, but no. In fact, Golden Shower probably stands head and shoulders above the other sexually explicit tracks. It’s an absolute delight to hear Till spew his schoolboy like rhymes over what sounds suspiciously like the N64 Goldeneye music in parts. Another fun little song that I can’t wait to see the man sing himself.
Yukon is another brief moment of clarity in this collection of madness, and it works. It’s a little less forgettable and generic than a few of the other tracks. Here, the music truly works together, and Lindemann’s vocals fit beautifully, creating the second best track on the album, if at least the best slower song on the album. It’s from here, we get to the best song on the album, and one of my favourite songs of the year, Praise Abort. Another absurd lyrical journey, the song is heavy in every sense. Synth, guitars, drums, the song really stands out, making the rest of the album sound, well, crap. The effort going into Praise Abort puts everything else to shame, with it’s incredibly catchy verses, choruses and riffs. Anybody who hasn’t seen the video, I urge you to check it out. Just make sure you aren’t feeling a little queasy beforehand. An incredible song, and a brilliant video… I’m so glad Till’s singing in English.
Closing the album is That’s My Heart, another slow burning, piano led song that closes proceedings well. A bookend to an experience like no other, it really allows the listener to reflect on what they’ve just heard. What did I feel about Skills In Pills? Honestly, it’s an incredibly mixed bag, and a hard album to give a concise verdict on. If you’re a fan of Rammstein, and Till Lindemann’s trademark madness, you owe it to yourself to listen to it. Whilst there are lulls, it’s worth your money if just for new material, and none of it would really disappoint a die hard fan. But for a casual fan, one like me, there isn’t enough beyond the entertaining lyrics and occasional brilliant riff or synth line. In summary? I enjoyed the album, I really did. But it feels like a collection of relatively generic Rammstein B sides with two or three real stand out classics. But after all… Isn’t that exactly what we all expect from a band’s side project?